Prospects for getting into iconic literary critic Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare course look grim, as nearly 60 people showed up today to compete for only 12 slots. Bloom said he was sorry to have to turn away eager shoppers, but at age 81 — his 56th year teaching! — feels a smaller class is best.

“I always feel wretched about this every year,” he said of narrowing down applicants.

For those lucky dozen who get to show up to his class next week, class discussions will revolve around Shakespeare’s late masterworks, including “King Lear,” “Macbeth,” “A Winter’s Tale” and “The Tempest.” The class will also investigate one of Shakespeare’s last pieces of writing in “The Two Noble Kinsman,” Acts I and V, which Bloom described as Shakespeare’s “most savage.” The last class is customarily held at Bloom’s house.

Applicants will be notified of their status this evening by around 6 p.m., before Bloom sits down to dine with his wife. Those turned down need not despair — there’s always his poetry class.